Many people settle in to a more sedentary lifestyle as they age. This is a common occurrence, as the body tends to slow down and experience various health problems as you grow older. However, age should not stop you from living an active lifestyle, as being physically active at this point of your life is more important than ever to your overall health and wellbeing. As long as you do not overexert yourself, and you take your doctor’s advice, you should be able to enjoy the many benefits of exercising that should help you live a long and healthy life.
What benefits can older people get from exercise?
Various studies have found that the more physically active you are, the longer you live. So, even if you only decide to start exercising as a senior, it is possible to add some extra years to your life. Below are some more benefits that you can get from exercise:
If you are overweight or obese, you should not delay the start of your weight loss journey any longer, as those extra pounds can be really hazardous to your health. Along with a healthy and nutritious diet, you can shed off some weight by getting into a regular exercise routine that can help you burn more calories.
Avoid different chronic diseases
Exercise can boost the body’s immune and digestive functions, and promote normal blood pressure levels and bone density. In addition, it lowers your risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer.
Improves balance, flexibility, and mobility
A lot of older people have hurt themselves due to problems with balance and coordination. To help combat that, you should exercise. A regular routine should be able to enhance your balance — which lowers your risk of falls, flexibility —which reduces muscle and joint pains, and mobility — which allows you to be more physically active than your peers. It also keeps you a safe distance away from arthritis and other chronic conditions.
Better sleep cycle
Sleep is essential to everyone, whether young or old. For the sake of your health, you should make sure to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night for your body to rest and have time to recover. With regular physical activity, you can fall asleep easier, and enjoy deep and uninterrupted slumber. The next day, you should be feeling highly energized and refreshed.
Boost brain function
As you get older, you become at great risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. To protect yourself from those, you should find an exercise regimen that can keep your brain working.
Exercise triggers your body to release endorphins, which are hormones that can help ease the feelings of anxiety, depression, sadness, and other negativity. The more frequent you exercise, the more frequent you can enjoy pleasant and happy days. So, stay active to avail of the natural mood-boosting effects of exercise.
How do you get started safely?
Because your body is weaker now than 20 years ago, you cannot just go to the gym and grab whatever weights catch your eye or go out and run 10 miles on your first day. You will only end up hurting yourself. Before you get started, you should make sure to consider the following:
Be in tune with your body
At this age, you are probably already familiar with how your body reacts to certain physical activities that you have done and have tried doing through the years. Feeling dizzy, breaking out in a cold sweat, experiencing chest pains, or having high blood pressure immediately after an exercise are red flags, and you should not force yourself to continue.
Get a doctor’s clearance
Talk to your doctor about your desire to be more physically active. They can give advice on what kind of exercise best suits you, which activities are not recommended, and so on. If you are currently dealing with an illness or medical condition, they can surely help you find a workout program that will not exacerbate your situation, or refer you to a trusted fitness professional.
You have to understand that you need to gradually build up your routine. Starting small and slow is okay. Do not think that you can be like your younger self who can do hour-long exercises on a daily basis. Now that you are older, you need to space out your workouts. Maybe have two or three days a week for exercising, and do a couple of 10-minute sessions with breaks in between per exercise day.
Keeping yourself hydrated throughout your workout session is important. You should have a water bottle that is easily accessible while you exercise. Water can replenish and rejuvenate your body, and lower your risk of soreness, cramps, and other discomforts and injuries.
Stick to a schedule
Committing to an exercise schedule is crucial to make exercise a typical part of your day-to-day life. For the first three or four weeks, you have to really make an effort to push yourself to exercise on the times and days you choose for your workout program. This is much easier to accomplish if you can do routines that you find enjoyable and fun.
Every time you reach a fitness goal, such as after running your first 20 miles or losing 5 pounds, you can award yourself prizes to keep you motivated to work harder to achieve your next fitness goals. You can probably treat yourself to a spa, eat a small slice of your favorite cake, or buy a new set of clothes or a pair of shoes.
Build a support system
Exercising can take a toll on you not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Because it is a long and tough road, with lots of bumps and obstacles along the way, you might find yourself wanting to just quit several times and never look back. To help keep you focused on your goals, you should reach out to your family and friends, and talk to them about your fitness goals. Their full support can do a lot of wonders to your mental and emotional disposition.